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Willamette Valley/Metro Metro rivers continue to receive ample amounts of precipitation in the form of rain and low-level snowfall that is keeping the Sandy and Clackamas systems high and cold. The broodstock returns are about to kick into high gear in the next 4 weeks, and if water conditions improve, action should too.

The Clackamas has been off to a slower start than the Sandy, but February will be the telling month that determines how the winter steelhead program is performing on this system. Most are expecting the returns to be fairly good so anglers should be prepared to hit the river in force when flows drop. High water tactics can take fish too, but steelhead move rather quickly when flows are up, rarely stopping for an anglers offering, which are hard to find in the first place with all the water coming downstream. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be seeking volunteers to collect wild broodstock for the hatchery program in coming weeks so stay tuned for the call to aid.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, “The Sandy River also remains high but productive, but the fact remains that sea lions are working the river, making fish rather timid to bite.” Anglers are concentrating in the Cedar Creek area near the hatchery as fish will slow there before heading up the tributary to the hatchery. It will likely remain the better bet for the metro fisheries.

The Willamette remains high, and a poor option for steelhead. Returns at Willamette Falls closely parallel last year’s dismal returns and sea lions are working the river above the West Linn Bridge. Sturgeon fishing should still be good in the Portland Harbor, but anglers aren’t all that inspired.

Northwest – It hasn’t been a fantastic week in Tillamook, but there were some quality wild and a few hatchery fish taken on the Wilson and Nestucca Rivers. Rivers remain high, but those versed in high water tactics are making it work with some consistency. Smaller systems seem to be the better options, but you have to choose those targets wisely.

Early season options such as the North Fork Nehalem and Three Rivers are largely void of fresh fish, but harbor spawned out steelhead that readily bite. This will be the mainstay for the next several weeks, but the Kilchis will remain a good late season option for those seeking solitude and a fair to good chance at wild fish, especially in higher flows.

The upper Trask also fishes well in high water and better numbers of fish are likely to start in as February progresses. There will be an occasional hatchery stray here as well. Beef up your gear, especially in high water as fish are often robust on this river system.

Be sure to use bigger and brighter offerings in the higher water. Drop down in size and subtlety as flows subside, if the hydrograph is accurate, it should be a productive weekend.

Along the Clatsop County beaches, a nice minus tide series would make for good evening razor clam digging, but a big surf will keep clams down, out of reach for most diggers. If the swell calms over the weekend, digging could be productive.

Southwest – From ODF&W outdoor report: 

Prior to recent storms, anglers were reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches and good surfperch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas of Winchester Bay.

When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing has been good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore Midwater Fishery (i.e., long-leader trips) often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.

The 2018 Oregon recreational fisheries allocation will be approximately 10 percent lower than in 2017. Based on input received from anglers, staff recommended seasons will be available mid-February.

After the rain last week, the Applegate and Illinois rivers are in prime shape for winter steelhead fishing.

Lost Creek Reservoir is a winter trout fishing hot spot in the Rogue Valley.

Winter steelhead fishing should be good throughout the Umpqua this weekend.

Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.

Ocean fishing for bottomfish has been great when conditions allow.

Applegate Reservoir has been stocked with rainbow trout and fishing should be good.

Chetco River steelhead fishing has been fair. Rain is expected by the weekend which should improve fishing conditions. Plunking will be good as flows drop and the river clears.

Galesville should have good numbers of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015.

The Illinois is in prime shape and fish should be spread throughout the system.

Steelhead are being caught throughout the North Umpqua River. The river is forecast to drop and with warm temperatures moving in, fishing should be good. The South Umpqua reopened on Dec. 1 to winter steelhead fishing. Anglers are having lots of success throughout the South

From our friend Pete Heley: 

The commercial crab season is now underway except for the coastal section south of Cape Blanco. A few commercial crabbers along the southern Oregon coast have opted to wait until the closed section reopens – at which time they will get a 30 day head start on commercial crabbers that are crabbing now.

As for recreational crabbing high muddy water has slowed, but not halted crabbing at Winchester Bay. Crabbing the lower end of Coos Bay near such Charleston-area landmarks as “the cribbs” and “Hungryman Cove” remains fairly productive.

This year’s first trout plants in our area will take place this coming week in the Florence area during the week beginning Feb. 5th – and most trout plants take place in the early part of the week.

Heavy rainfall last week raised and muddied most area streams. Exceptions were Tenmile and Eel creeks which never seem to get muddy and have been fishing well. Streams that were producing well before last weeks rains included the East and West forks of the Millicoma River and the North Fork of the Coquille River.

The hot yellow perch bite at the County Park on South Tenmile Lake less than two weeks ago seems to have disappeared.

The first Umpqua River spring chinook probably won’t show up for three or four weeks, but in the meantime there is a very much overlooked fishery in the Wells Creek area for small to medium-sized brown bullhead catfish.

Eastern From our friend Tim Moran: 

Prineville Reservoir – This lake has been kicking out nice trout all winter. It’s a great place to fish especially on some of these warmer days.

Haystack Reservoir – Haystack should fish good through the winter.

Metolius River – Fish the Blue Wing Olive hatch that usually comes off between 12 and 3pm. If nothing is happening on the surface go with small nymphs.

Grande Ronde River – My sources on the river have not updated me so…I guess I’ll have to go see for myself. Look here next week for my personal report.

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Cowlitz River –

Effort and catches are light. From the I-5 Br. downstream –14 bank rods kept 1 steelhead. Above the I-5 Br: 14 bank rods released 1 adult coho and 3 cutts. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 13,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, January 29. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 43.1 degrees F.

Bonneville and John Day pools – Little to no effort and no steelhead catch was observed.


Bonneville Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged a legal per every 3 rods last week. Bank anglers also caught some legals.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers caught some legals. Fishing was slow from the bank.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville and John Day pools – Boat anglers averaged nearly 2 walleye per rod. A few bass were also caught.

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